Dominic Perrottet outlined his priorities before he was sworn in NSW’s 46th Premier on Tuesday afternoon.
The Catholic father of six and former Treasurer landed the top job in a Liberal Party meeting on Tuesday after Gladys Berejiklian resigned facing a corruption investigation.
In his first press conference as Premier-elect, Mr Perrottet said he will take the state ‘from good to great’ and focus on ‘keeping people safe, opening up the economy and securing our recovery’ after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here’s what we know so far about Mr Perrottet’s vision for the state.
Mr Perrottet said Sydney’s lockdown will end as planned on Monday despite speculation he could move ‘freedom day’ forward to Friday.
‘On Monday, the state opens up and we want to get people back into work, get business open again, and that is the focus of our government today,’ he said.
But the Premier-elect – who has long argued for lighter restrictions – said the re-opening plan may be tweaked because ‘there are a number of issues that need to be looked at.’
He was due to meet with Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant and Brad Hazzard on Tuesday afternoon.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia last month Mr Perrottet said he expected nightclubs to open at the 80 per cent vaccination rate – but under current plans they are closed until December 1.
He may also decide to bring forward the re-opening date of indoor pools which was pushed back from October 11 to December 1, causing outrage from concerned parents who say swimming lessons are essential.
Asked if NSW will ever need shutdowns again to stop Covid-19 spreading, Mr Perrottet said: ‘I don’t want to go back into lockdown.
‘From time to time, there may be the need for targeted restrictions. But ultimately, we’ve got to learn to live alongside this virus, and vaccination has been the key to doing it.’
Mr Perrottet said Sydney’s lockdown will end as planned on Monday. Pictured: A Sydney cafe owner
He later told Sky News Australia: ‘We’ve got to learn to live with the virus it’s not going away.
‘I want to be premier of a state that is open and free. It’s not for the government to provide those freedoms. It’s in our innate nature.’
Mr Perrottet said Covid cases will go up when lockdown is lifted but said ‘low cases are not the only point of success’.
He warned there are other factors to consider including mental health and children’s education.
Mr Perrottet has previously argued for unvaccinated residents to be granted equal freedoms once everyone has been offered a jab.
‘Once every single person in this state has had the opportunity to be vaccinated with two doses then we should open up for everyone,’ he told 2GB last month.
‘I want to see more unity and not have a two-tiered society here.’
According to the roadmap, unvaccinated people will be able to go to pubs and restaurants on December 1.
Mr Perrottet said he has not yet considered whether to move the re-opening of schools forward from October 18.
‘I have just been appointed and I have not even been sworn in yet – in terms of making policy decisions in relation to that,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet said he has not yet considered whether to move the re-opening of schools forward from October 18. Pictured: Georgina Coase home schools her daughter Emily, seven, and son Samuel, nine, in Stanwell Park, Wollongong
‘Obviously, we have had significant debates. I, like every parent across the state, want the kids back in school as quickly as possible, so I can tell the people of New South Wales today I am committed to doing that.
‘We have a roadmap. At this stage, that roadmap is in place and I will work through those details.’
Mr Perrottet also wants to restart international travel, with tourists expected to enter Australia next year.
‘We’re talking about returning international students, we’re talking about returning Australians. We’re opening up businesses and the next step is opening up borders,’ he told Daily Mail Australia last month.
Mr Perrottet also wants to restart international travel, with tourists expected to enter Australia next year. Pictured: Sydney Airport last year
‘If we can lead the way on international travel that’s going to be a great thing for the state.
‘And hopefully that will then lead to other states following us. It might be ironic that you can get to Bali before you can get to Broome but that’s where we’re heading.’
Mr Perrottet said other states who are nervous about opening up state borders will be eventually pushed into action by their voters who will want to travel once more.
Following today’s vote Mr Perrottet said he would be a ‘family premier’ who wants to ‘make life better for working families.’
‘Up until now, all of our Liberal premiers have been infrastructure premiers, building roads, rail, schools and hospitals for communities right across our state, and that will not change with me,’ he said.
‘But I will also be a family Premier, focusing on how we can make life better for working families, living the Liberal values of opportunity, aspiration and hard work.’
Mr Perrottet said he would be a ‘family premier’ who wants to ‘make life better for working families.’ He is picture with his children and wife Helen
‘The true strength of New South Wales is its people, our tradies, our working mums and dads, business owners, frontline workers, teachers, workers, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, police. Our state is a rich history with a rich tapestry.’
He later said having a family ‘enriches you’ and ‘gives you different perspective.’ Former Premier Ms Berejiklian does not have children.
With Sydney house prices up 20 per cent in the past year, Mr Perrottet is worried that too many young people won’t be able to buy a home.
Mr Perrottet has advocated scrapping stamp duty – a tax paid when a property is sold – in favour of an annual land tax.
‘We are facing a challenge when it comes to generational equity where many young people today cannot get the keys to their very first home, and we have a duty to ensure that generations that come after us have greater opportunity and prosperity than we have, and, in order to do that, reform is key,’ he said on Tuesday.
With Sydney house prices up 20 per cent in the past year, Mr Perrottet is worried that too many young people won’t be able to buy a home. Pictured: An auction in Sydney in May
‘Reform is crucial. It is tough, and it is very rarely achieved in a bipartisan way because the political advantage is too tough, but I am here to do what is right, to serve our people.
‘Ultimately, you only reform and take on those challenges in circumstances where you are improving the lives of people across our state and that is the end goal,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet is a devout Catholic who voted against the decriminalisation of abortion in 2019 and will argue against voluntary assisted dying in an expected vote later this month.
He has been described as NSW’s most conservative premier since WWII but said his religious beliefs do not make him less qualified for the job.
‘My religious views and my Christian faith is something I am incredibly proud of, as many people across our state are.
‘That is something that is personal to me and personal too many people, and I think that is incredibly important,’ he said.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet walks through Parliament on Tuesday before securing the votes to become NSW Premier
Mr Perrottet defended his decision to vote against allowing abortion, saying: ‘There are always different views, and some decisions are sensitive and difficult.
‘The position I took on that was similar to the position that many people in the parliament took and that many people across our state hold. They’re difficult decisions. They’re not easy. But public life is not easy.
‘As I’ve always said on issues of that nature that come up from time to time – they’re rare, but when they come up from time to time – our party will always have a conscience vote. And I think that’s incredibly important.’
Asked if LGBTI communities have any reason to be concerned by his leadership, Mr Perrottet said: ‘No, not at. All I think a fundamental premise of my values is respect and dignity for everyone.
‘I think that has been the way that I’ve conducted myself in public life. I love diversity. I think that’s what makes our state great.
‘I have the deep honour and privilege to be here today and to serve the people of our state, I will serve every single one of you.’
Why did Gladys Berejiklian resign?
Ms Berejiklian quit on Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog said it was investigating her.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her secret ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP Mr Maguire between 2012 and 2018.
It will also probe whether she breached public trust by not reporting any suspicion of corrupt conduct and what role she had to play in two government grants handed out in Mr Maguire’s electorate.
The NSW corruption watchdog ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her ex-boyfriend and former MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together)
An ICAC public inquiry on the matter will be held for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
Mr Maguire is accused of abusing his public office after admitting being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions for brokering property deals. He was forced to resign in 2018.
In an emotional 10-minute speech on Friday Ms Berejiklian denied any wrongdoing and slammed the watchdog for announcing its investigation into her as the state emerges from a four-month Covid lockdown.
‘Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do,’ she said.
Everything you need to know about Gladys’ replacement: How Dominic Perrottet supported Donald Trump and has VERY conservative views on abortion – but loves hitting the pub
By Stephen Johnson
Gladys Berejiklian’s replacement as NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is a proud social conservative who questions climate change, opposes abortion, loves Donald Trump and also a drink.
The 39-year-old devout Catholic father-of-six has overwhelmingly won the Liberal party room vote 39 to five, defeating Planning Minister Rob Stokes to become the next premier of New South Wales, thanks to the support of the socially-progressive moderate faction.
On Tuesday morning, the outgoing treasurer is making history as the state’s youngest ever leader.
While his predecessor came from the Liberal Party’s moderate faction and was unmarried with no children, Perrottet is the complete opposite and hails from the right of the party.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Dominic Perrottet enjoy a Guinness on St Patrick’s Day in Sydney in May
This is despite him voting in 2019 against a bill to decriminalise abortion declaring he could not support laws that stopped ‘the beating heart of an unborn child’.
The Liberal Party’s new leader in November 2016 laid out his conservative views in a lengthy Facebook post after Republican Donald Trump unexpectedly beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election.
He used the occasion to paraphrase Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies and disgraced US president Richard Nixon.
‘There is a silent majority, a forgotten people, who feel like the values they hold dear are no longer being represented by the political class,’ he said.
‘In fact these values and the people who hold them are looked upon with contempt.’
Perrottet also questioned the science of climate change, even though his likely treasurer Matt Kean from the moderate faction is a fierce advocate for renewable energy.
‘If you question man-made climate change, you are not a sceptic,’ he said.
Intriguingly, former Labor senator Sam Dastyari who studied law two decades ago with Perrottet at the University of Sydney recalled the future premier as a hard drinker who abstained from masturbation and didn’t believe in using contraception.
‘He didn’t believe in contraception, he does not believe in contraception,’ Dastyari told Kyle and Jackie O on KIIS FM in June 2018.
‘He doesn’t believe or he didn’t at the time believe in masturbation.
‘Dom was an old drinking buddy of mine back in my uni days , we used to get blind drunk together at Sydney uni, just horrible, and he was like this hardcore, Catholic, religious, but a big drinker.’
Dastyari recalled Perrottet even as a young man at university being opposed to gay marriage, which at the time was opposed by both sides of politics, and the idea of abortion.
‘The bit I remember him telling me at uni was – he was always a bit religious, he didn’t support marriage equality, didn’t support a woman’s right to choose,’ he said.
Like Dastyari, Perrottet also led the young wing of his political party.
Before becoming a junior solicitor, Perrottet was the leader of the NSW Young Liberals, taking over in 2005 three years after future cabinet minister Alex Hawke, who now holds the immigration portfolio, spearheaded a right-wing takeover of the youth movement.
Hawke later split from the right, forming a breakaway centre-right faction, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison belongs to, and he is no longer close with Perrottet.
In July Perrottet, as NSW Treasurer, clashed with Mr Morrison after he called on the federal government to reinstate JobKeeper wage subsidies during the early stage of Sydney’s three-month lockdown.
Political author Niki Savva, a former Liberal ministerial media adviser, revealed that in July, Mr Morrison called Mr Perrottet a ‘f***wit’ during a heated discussion.
Asking about this on Tuesday by Sunrise host David Koch, Mr Morrison said: ‘Well, Dom and I have been working together for years and we’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve got an honest relationship and we’ve got a lot done together.
Perrottet is himself one of 12 children, with his father John a director of the World Bank.
Reaction to Gladys Berjiklian’s shock resignation
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: ‘Gladys is a dear friend of mine. We’ve known each other for a long time. She has displayed heroic qualities, heroic qualities as the premier of NSW.’
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews: ‘I find her to be a person of integrity, a person that works hard for her state and has been a very important partner with us.’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk: ‘I wish Gladys Berejiklian the best for the future. Contrary to some public commentary, I have always respected Gladys and found her to be good company’.
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro: ‘I have served as the Deputy Premier to Gladys Berejiklian for almost five years and in that time she has led this State through some of its darkest days. Everyone has the right to defend their name and I wish Gladys all the best for her future.’
Former federal treasurer and NSW MP Joe Hockey: ‘She has been the best political leader Australia has seen in years taking the state through drought, bushfires and COVID. ICAC again pulls down a fine premier for something other than corruption.’
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns: ‘For all our disagreements I have never doubted Gladys’ dedication to NSW, or her work in the service of it. I thank her for her service.’
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet: ‘I want to again pay tribute to one of the most outstanding leaders our state has ever had. Gladys is both a colleague and a friend and her decision is a loss to public life in NSW.’